(image source: smellofbooks.com)
What is with all of the panic about e-books and iPads and Kindles and the pleasure of reading? Everywhere I turn I hear or read about people’s opinion about the pleasure of reading involving the tactile experience of touching a books pages, of turning them one by one, of the smells and their associations with print based books, of the need for annotations and scribbles, and how those scribbles hold histories and meanings that will never be captured by some cold, clinical, technological equipment used to mediate and reduce reading to something that is lesser – less pleasurable, less immersive, less tactile, and less sensory. Why is there some sense of either/or… and such strong emotion and argument about “it will never replace the real thing”.
Reading is situated in all kinds of cultural practices. Some practices are deeply embedded in some cultures: the bed time story, scribbling in the margins, walking into an old book shop and inhaling the scent of old musty books (many of these practices reflect a kind of privileged relationship to books). People tell me stories about how their bookshelves in different parts of their house reflect different aspects of their identities and are important artefacts that define who they are. But other cultural practices with texts are emerging, literacy is always in a state of change, and identity is always a flexible, fluid phenomenon… I think it is time to stop the panic and embrace the fact that kids are engaged in reading, whichever device they use.
(image source: travis_warren123)